More workers are returning to the office. The pandemic-era commute might be changed forever

The Washington Post


Continued teleworking could ease traffic congestion, experts say, but only if commuters embrace mass transit


An upheaval in commuting patterns is afoot as employees change when and how they return to their desks — and how often, if at all.

With more offices expected to reopen after Labor Day, transportation experts say even a small shift toward telework could lead to thousands of motorists and transit passengers vanishing from roads, trains and buses. The ability to work from home part of the day would allow more commuters to avoid the morning and evening crunch, shortening the duration of the worst congestion.

Some experts expect midweek misery if Mondays and Fridays become popular telework days, leaving Wednesdays as the in-person “meeting day.”

How are you deciding whether to stick with your original commute or try something new? Changes are in motion as more workers mull whether to return to familiar commutes of early 2020 or experiment with a new routine — decisions that could have sweeping implications for mass transit and traffic congestion. Transportation officials eyeing the emerging trends say the adjustments to the region’s pandemic-era commuting patterns might be everlasting. “The question is how fast folks come back, how frequently they come back, and whether there’s flexibility on when they can be in the office,” said Joe McAndrew, a transportation specialist for the Greater Washington Partnership, a business leadership group. “I don’t think this region will ever be the same because of the high capacity of people who can work from home.”

Many companies’ plans to rev up this summer before a broader fall reopening have seemed less certain in recent days amid a surge of the delta variant of the coronavirus.


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